The continuing disaster that is Bush administration foreign policy was highlighted today by the news that more U.S. and NATO forces had died in the war against the Taliban-Al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 invasion.
Although many progressives here opposed it, the war to oust the Taliban regime in Afghanistan had broad international support on many levels and was justified on those levels, when one looks at the brutal clerical fascist nature of the Taliban regime, which women's rights activists alerted the international community to but which meant little to the U.S. and its NATO allies, to the Taliban regime's direct alliance with the Al Qaeda group (the fact that both were in effect creations of the U.S. supported war in Afghanistan against the Communist-led government and its Soviet allies meant little in the post 9/11 period).
But the war in Afghanistan, the Bush administration's "defensible war," has been handled disastrously, as this month's casualty tolls show. The secular government established by the U.S. and its allies has been undermined continually by "former" warlords and others long on the U.S. patronage list. Most of all, the elements of the Pakistani intelligence services and military who did the ground work for the war against the Afghan Communist government in the 1980s and, without any opposition from the U.S. backed the Taliban forces and help them establish a regime (at the time of the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were the only countries which had not broken relations with the Taliban regime because of its horrendous crimes) have received billions in U.S. military and "anti-terrorist aid." At best they have done next to nothing to oust the Taliban Al Qaeda forces from their base areas in Pakistan and, at worst, they have continued to aid these forces with U.S. taxpayers money. The government of Afghanistan has recently accused elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence of plotting to assassinate its president.
As Bush and McCain continue to use classic Big Lie techniques to portray the administration as "strong" and "successful" in fighting a "war against terrorism" Al Qaeda in effect grows more dangerous thanks to their disastrous policies in Iraq and everywhere else. Even a grade school imperialist would realize that Afghanistan is and has always been a far more difficult place to "pacify" than Iraq. The groups that the U.S. and its allies are fighting in Afghanistan are also "protected" by the U.S. supported Pakistani government, much more unified and with a much longer and more effective history of guerrilla-terrorist actions than the groups in Iraq. They have no oil or anything else of real value, of course, except strategic position that they can use for all kinds of dangerous maneuvering against Pakistan, Iran, and former Soviet Republics. Meanwhile, there are reports that the Al Qaeda group is beefing up the right-wing Muslim insurgency against the secular military regime in Algeria.
Nearly seven after the 9/11 attacks and many hundreds of billions spent in the "war against terrorism," this is what the Bush administration has to show for its "war against terrorism" , a Catch-22 record of defeat after defeat and an administration which not only refuses to admit its defeats but has the effrontery to portray them as the model of "strength," and " patriotism"
When Bush ran again in 2004 and waved the flag, I wrote that putting him back in office for his "success" in the "war against terrorism" (which is primarily ,as virtually all serious analysts have
understood for a century, a police rather than a military matter) would be like the British in 1940 putting Neville Chamberlain back in office after the "success" of his pro German, anti-Soviet foreign policy aka appeasement.
That was one year after the invasion of Iraq, Americans were spending a lot less of their disposable income on gasoline, and the national debt was trillions less than in this presidential year.
Today, as McCain as talks of military buildups, new NAFTA's, health care proposals that would sicken people in the rest of the developed world, he has "inherited" the Bush policies and the Bush mantle. He can't get away from it even if he tries (and so far he isn't trying). Senator Obama should begin to expose the deepening economic crisis that Americans understand and that no amount of flag waving and obfuscation can effective deny and connect that economic disaster with the foreign policy disaster since the two are interconnected and the continuation of the latter makes it much more difficult for any administration to organize the resources to deal with the former. So far, the only "war" in which the the Bush administration can say that it has won some victories is the "war" it has fought against labor, working families, and lower income Americans, a "war" that has deepened consumer debt, undermined effective mass purchasing power and made life less secure and harder for the majority of Americans.